Daniel Bryan, also known by his real name Bryan Danielson, is a very unique wrestler, and for many fans, he is a breath of fresh air in the crowded WWE superstar landscape. He's a laid-back guy who connects directly with his crowds, and it is rather evident in his popularity. Over the last few years in particular Bryan's followers have soared, and many believe he is destined for great WWE accomplishments.
The thing is, he already has some major WWE accolades to his name. He's won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship three times, and the World Heavyweight Championship once. He's also a tag-team enthusiast, winning the WWE Tag Team Championship with his “Team Hell No” one time. Bryan has even won the 2011 SmackDown Money in the Bank event, and the WWE has recognized his contributions by naming him the 2013 Superstar of the Year.
But for those unfamiliar with the surging superstar, it may seem like this man has come out of nowhere. What has this man done to earn such recent acclaim? Fortunately, we have provided the newcomers to the Daniel Bryan fan wagon a handy list of interesting facts. What follows are the ten amazing things you probably didn't know about WWE's Daniel Bryan.
10 He Has Extensive Wrestling Experience in Japan
Bryan actually has plenty of intercontinental experience, and developed quite a reputation in Japan after securing several championships. He won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship in the Japanese wrestling league NOAH, and also won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in the NJPW.
In total, tallying up both his Japanese belt wins and his championships accrued during his WWE run, Daniel Bryan has won eleven championships and five world titles. Overall, his experience in Japan was a positive one, bouncing around a few organizations and getting a taste of success. For Bryan, it was a chance to fine tune his craft and prepare himself for American audiences.
9 Bryan is a Yes-Man
Bryan is the founder of a movement. No, it’s nothing politically significant or world changing, but it certainly has run rampant through the world of sports. Bryan’s trademark phrase is simply “Yes!” which he shouts to and from the ring. He even wears a shirt sometimes with YES! labeled down the front. Crowds began catching on, and it became a cross-sport phenomenon. These days the chant can be hears at NHL, MLB or NBA games and has even broken out at some concerts.
The catchphrase has roots to MMA fighter Diego Sanchez, to whom Bryan credits for the inspiration. Bryan first began using it after he won the heavyweight championship against Kofi Kingston. After winning, Bryan went crazy and shouted the phrase repeatedly, even standing on the announcers table. Crowds loved it, and the movement was unstoppable.
8 He Was a Huge Part of Wrestling Ring of Honor's Success
The Ring of Honor is a brand of professional wrestling a bit different than the WWE, with a stronger focus on actual wrestling rather than reliance on gimmicks. The result is more believability. Bryan was instrumental in the league's success, and has even been recognized as one of their founding fathers.
Bryan became ROH World Champion, and wrestled in the ROH debut show’s main event. In fact, he became so popular that he wrestled in quite a few of their main events. It was here that Bryan learned how to play a crowd, pandering to fans to give them a show they all enjoyed. It was further tuning of his wrestling that would help him later down the line when he joined the WWE.
7 He's Not The Typical WWE Superstar
Bryan is not the first man that pops into our heads when we think of a WWE superstar, and that’s okay, in fact that’s how he likes it. Bryan considers himself to be a bit of the antithesis to the average superstar, and has provided the WWE with a different angle from which someone can achieve wrestling success.
WWE superstars typically exude machismo, but Bryan connects with fans in a different way. It is slightly reminiscent of Mankind in that he brings forth this mild-mannered demeanor. It’s almost as if Bryan is a fan himself, he just happened to don wrestling shorts and find his way into the ring. He genuinely loves fans, and one of his more famous entrances is when he sings “The Final Countdown” with the crowd.
6 PETA is a Big Fan of Daniel Bryan
The animal rights group is actually pro-violence in this instance, at least pro-wrestling. Bryan is a vegan, a choice that was basically made for him after he suffered a series of staph infections. Doctors looked at his elevated liver enzymes and gave him no choice, but since that day Bryan has embraced the lifestyle. In 2012, Bryan was named “Most Animal Friendly Athlete” by PETA. He narrowly edged other athletes such as Willis McGahee, Chase Utley, and Jake Shields.
Later in 2012, Bryan announced he was no longer vegan; he developed an intolerance for soy, and cited difficulty finding non-soy based foods while constantly on the road for the WWE. He maintains his healthy eating habits, though, and remains a practicing vegetarian.
5 The WWE Didn’t Initially Believe in Him
While Bryan had many fans abroad and in the ROH, the WWE was slow on the uptake. Many attribute this to Vince McMahon’s reluctance to go all-in on Bryan. Once again, Bryan did not fit the profile for an ideal WWE superstar, and Vince McMahon has a way of saying it’s his way or the highway.
The reluctance was evident in Bryan’s WWE debut, which was a dark match that wasn’t even aired on television. Afterwards, Bryan was basically relegated to the WWE equivalent of a baseball’s AAA team. He moved to Florida to wrestle in the Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) league in order to further develop his wrestling skills and acclimate to his new environment.
4 He was Fired from the WWE
The slight tensions between Bryan and WWE higher ups came to a head on June 11, 2010 when the WWE fired him from the league. Apparently, WWE officials claimed he had been too violent when Bryan strangled a ring announcer during a match with his own tie. Bryan claims that the WWE later apologized to him, saying the firing was a result of appeasing WWE sponsors.
Bryan returned with a vengeance just a few months later. In August, he was a surprise seventh member at the SummerSlam event for Team WWE. Perhaps this can be seen as an unofficial endorsement.
3 He’s a Real-Life Vigilante
Bryan’s home in Phoenix, Arizona was once broken into during the night by two burglars. Bryan arrived home in time, and imagine his surprise when he encountered the two unexpected visitors. Rather, imagine their surprise when they discovered their mark was a professional wrestler.
Bryan immediately chased the burglars, managing to subdue one of them. He then held the man with a rear naked choke until authorities were brought to the scene. The man, Cesar Sosa, was immediately arrested. Speaking later, Bryan said his first worry wasn’t even the loot the burglars might have stolen, but rather his two-year-old French bulldog named Josie who was inside the house. With a WWE champion for an owner, it’s safe to say nobody will be messing with Josie anytime soon.
2 He’s a Reality TV Star
Well, star might be putting too glorious a label on things, but Bryan certainly has had his share of reality TV air time. That’s because his now wife, WWE diva Brie Bella, is frequently featured on the E! Network reality series Total Divas. This has resulted in several on-screen appearances by Bryan simply by extension.
More recently, the couple’s wedding was featured in an April episode. The wedding was attended by fellow superstars John Cena, Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, and Jimmy Uso. The wedding was the focus of the episode, and the French bull-dog Bryan would save from burglars mere months later was also involved.
1 Injuries Have Proved a Serious Obstacle
Bryan lost all strength in his right arm, forcing him to undergo neck surgery in 2014. During this time, he held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, yet he refused to relinquish his title despite being unable to wrestle. The WWE then pushed this storyline where they threatened to fire Bryan’s wife if he did not give up the title, which resulted in his wife quitting so Bryan could remain the titleholder.
Though the neck surgery was successful, Bryan was still unable to wrestle, and his title was eventually stripped from him. Many doubted whether he would ever wrestler again, as the strength simply would not return to his arm. He began training in kickboxing and jujitsu, and returned in stunning fashion, silencing all the doubters. On January 15, 2015, Bryan won the main event of SmackDown, and followed it up with a subsequent victory in the next week’s main event.
Unfortunately, Bryan has very recently announced that he has gone through an MRI and due to an undisclosed injury he will once again be unable to wrestle for an unknown period of time. As a result he decided to relinquish his Intercontinental title. The sad notion that we have seen the last of Daniel Bryan looms as a very real possibility.